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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 18:53 GMT
Council backs school changes plan
Parents gather outside the council offices in Caernarfon
Around 600 people took part in the protest in Caernarfon
Councillors in Gwynedd have voted in favour of plans to reorganise primary education in the county.

A consultation on closing 29 schools and joining others together under one head teacher will go ahead after the scheme was backed by 43 votes to 22.

Around 600 people staged a noisy protest in Caernarfon before councillors met to discuss the plans.

Gwynedd Council says reorganisation is needed because of a dramatic fall in pupil numbers over the last 20 years.

It wants to build eight new area schools in a move which it has said will make the best use of facilities instead of keeping 2,400 empty places.

The reorganisation has provoked heavy criticism.

At the protest on Thursday, Paul Connor, a governor at Ysgol Rhiwlas, said he did not want the school to close and his children to travel to school by bus.

"Most children are now within walking distance," he said.

Federalise

Aled Williams, from Ysgol y Garreg at Llanfrothen, said he had moved his children from a larger primary school so they could benefit from smaller classes.

"Their education has improved as a result," he said.

Ysgol Baladeulyn in Nantlle has produced a CD which they plan to sell to fund a campaign to save their school.

"My son has a fantastic education there," said Carys Owen.

Not all the schools represented at the protest are earmarked for closure.

Amanda Bristow's children attend Ysgol Brynaerau at Pontllyfni which is set to federalise with two other schools.

Ysgol y Parc banner
Ysgol y Parc is the heart of the community say its supporters

She said: "Federalisation is the thin end of the wedge, leaving the way open to close the smaller school."

The schools earmarked to close range from Ysgol Rhydyclafdy with four pupils to Ysgol Borth-y-gest, which has 80.

Local campaign groups are also concerned that school closures will leave the future of some villages in doubt.

There have been several smaller protests since the closures were announced in October including one on Wednesday where pupils from Ysgol y Clogau near Dolgellau, Gwynedd presented a 1,500 signature petition to their MP, Elfyn Llwyd.

'Surplus'

Parents have also lobbied councillors and other local politicians.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has offered its full support to the report before the council.

WLGA education spokesman John Davies, from Pembrokeshire, said: "This is a national issue that impacts on all of Wales' 22 councils, not just Gwynedd.

"The issue of surplus places in schools is not going away.

"Local authorities need to look for Wales-wide solutions that ensure the right number of educational facilities are in the right places," he added.

SEE ALSO
Protests ahead of school meetings
12 Dec 07 |  North West Wales
Q&A: Gwynedd's schools review
19 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
Hundreds at school closures demo
25 Oct 07 |  North West Wales
Schools shake-up protests staged
20 Nov 07 |  North West Wales

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